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What's Happening

Updated Oct 20, 2013

Most news items published in The Coast, The Chronicle Herald, Metro News etc. are posted on our Facebook page regularly.

Halifax, October 20, 2013

Convention Centre Developer Seeks Permission to Break the Rules
On Thursday October 24, 2013, at 7pm there will be a public information meeting at the Dal Computer Science Building to consider changing HRMbyDesign to allow the developer, Joe Ramia to build a larger building on the convention centre site. The development would violate nine provisions (in at least 20 ways) of the Downtown Halifax Land Use by-law (HRMbyDesign)....more

Halifax, August 15, 2011:


Coalition Enters Phase Two

 "This is a sad day for Nova Scotians”, said Beverly Miller of the Coalition to Save the View, reacting to the announcement by Defence Minister Peter MacKay that the federal government would provide $51.4 million to the proposed Halifax convention centre.          
“The Coalition has been studying the economics of the industry for two years and has not found a single shred of evidence that the convention centre would have net economic benefits,” ...more


Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Misinformation in the Internal Report of Trade Centre Limited of June, 2010

Trade Centre Limited (TCL) produced a document titled “Market Projections for a Proposed New Convention Centre, 10 Year/by Market Segment, Internal Staff Report, June 2010”.1 That document was used as the basis of a July, 2010, economic impact assessment by Gardner Pinfold,2 which was in turn used by the Province of Nova Scotia in considering the business case for a proposed convention centre. 3
That Internal Report is seriously flawed. Some of these flaws were pointed out by Dr. Heywood Sanders when he visited Halifax in November, 2010.4-6 That flawed document should not be a basis for any decision by any government. But two governments have given the convention centre project approval in principle using that flawed document.
The purpose of this article is to point out some of the flaws in the Trade Centre report. >>> more

 

Posted Monday, December 6th, 2010

MEDIA RELEASE: HRM Staff Convention Centre Financial Projections Raise Serious Concerns

(Halifax) The Coalition to Save the View is concerned that a November 9th HRM staff report and presentation to Council on the financial  projections for the proposed P3 convention centre in downtown Halifax inflated potential revenues and underestimated potential costs. This incorrect information was the basis on which Councilors voted to begin negotiations with the Province on possible funding options.

Save the View has identified several examples of unrealistic projections regarding revenues, as well as the omission of some costs. Overstated property tax assumptions are in the millions, and there are over $4 million of annual costs that were omitted.

In total, the inflated revenues and understated costs mean a net annual cost to HRM in the $5 million to $7 million range if the proposed convention centre goes ahead. Even if it’s only an annual loss of $5 million, that’s a loss to taxpayers of $125 million over the 25-year life of the proposed project. (for details see attached document)

The inadequate yet rosy analysis on the real costs of the proposed convention centre should be corrected so Council can be better informed before taking any further decision on the HRM contribution to the deal. HRM’s projected budget short-fall is $13.9 million for the up-coming fiscal year. click here for complete release

 

Dr. Heywood Sanders, Nov 8,
7-9 pm
.

 

DOWNLOAD PDF of
PRINT-SIZE VERSION OF POSTER

 

DOWNLOAD BROOKINGS INSTITUTE REPORT ON CONVENTION CENTRES BY HEYWOOD SANDERS

poster

 

For immediate release
Friday, June 18, 2010

HALIFAX, NS – A new convention centre in downtown Halifax would be a heavy net financial burden on Nova Scotia taxpayers, says the Coalition to Save the View. This conclusion is based on a close reading of four consultants’ reports on the project ...more

Posted Friday, June 18, 2010

Is there a business case for a new P3 Convention Centre in downtown Halifax? 

The Coalition to Save the View held a press conference (click here for press release) on Friday, June 18, 2010 to provide evidence that a new convention centre in downtown Halifax would be a heavy net financial burden on all Nova Scotia taxpayers.

On behalf of STV three experts Allan Robertson, M.Sc., P.Eng., FCMC, Management Consultant; Beverly Miller, MA, MBA, Associate Professor of Marketing; and Andrew Harvey, Ph.D., Economist, examined in detail four earlier consultants' reports on the project commissioned by Trade Centre Limited and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

The results of their review presented at the press conference can be dowloaded here:

WHY NOVA SCOTIANS CAN'T AFFORD A NEW CONVENTION CENTREpfd

Nova Scotians have seen a lot in the media about the proposed new World Trade and Convention Centre (WTCC) for Halifax, and heard about the conventions that have been lost in the last three years because our 26-year-old facility is, in the words of one industry supporter, "way past its best-before date"...more

Is there a business case for a new convention centre in Halifax?pdf

In March, 2008, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality called for expressions of interest for construction of a new convention centre in Halifax. There are four resulting reports on the proposed convention centre and the business case for it ...more

Review of Criterion Communications Inc. and HLT Advisory Reports Regarding WTCC, Halifax, NS pdf

Media headlines have consistently reported that these consultants' reports promote the idea of building a new convention centre for downtown Halifax. Unfortunately, these conclusions can only have resulted from a very superficial reading of the reports because it is very clear from material in these reports that there are serious problems with the project. ...more

 

For immediate release
Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Data Shows Convention Attendance Drops Despite Expansions

(Halifax) The Coalition to Save the View from Citadel Hill has released new graphs that show event attendance has been dropping, even though Canadian convention centres have been expanding in the past decade.

The graphs were prepared by convention expert Dr. Heywood Sanders of the University of Texas at San Antonio at the request of the Coalition. The graphs show that, while convention centre exhibit space grew by 11% from 1998 until 2008, attendance at the top 50 Canadian events declined by 200,000 people or 32%.

Trade centres in other cities have used the same arguments as those put forward in Halifax by Trade Centre Limited in order to justify expansion... [click here to read our press release]

ALSO SEE - BAR CHARTS BY HEYWOOD SAUNDERS
and PDF of Report "Space Available: The Realities of Convention Centers as Economic Development Strategy"
by Heywood Sanders

 

Feb 19, 2010

Coalition wants Auditor General to investigate P3 financial arrangements of Convention Centre Towers Proposal

STV has written to the Nova Scotia Auditor General (AG), Mr. Jacques Lapointe, to ask that he investigate why HRM and the Nova Scotia government are continuing in their plans to build a P3 Convention Centre despite the concerns about the P3 financial arrangement and the fact that this is triggering the doubling of the towers to 14 and 18 storeys in the proposed location.

[click here to read our press release]

[click here to read a detalied version of this document]

Summary of Concerns*
1. Public money triggers the towers doubling in height and blocking the view;
2. Other locations are available;
3. Public money will privatize the public's view without public consultation;
4. The convention centre is super-sized;
5. P3 financing;
6. Criterion Consultant is acting both as a consultant to HRM and the Province and a promoter of the proposed P3 Convention Centre at the Kate Carmichael lecture;
7. Criterion Communications may be representing the business communities' interest over the public's interest “....lobbying efforts which appeal to the logic of an argument and the support that a lobby group feels it can deliver is not usually the primary factor in how decisions get made. Of much greater importance is the extent to which a decision appeals [sic] to respond to public needs and concerns. From the point of view of an exercise like this, it means there is a need to create an ‘environment’ of community opinion in which government is encouraged and supported in making a decision favourable to our interests”
8. There is no costing of what will happen to the provincially-owned World Trade and Convention Centre;
9. Grafton Street between Brunswick and Prince, a public street, will be turned into part of the Super-blocker;
10 & 11. Turner Drake reports on downtown are ignored
12. International Conventions book 10 years ahead- why is there such a rush if it is the wrong decision?


January 15, 2010

Four reports gained through Freedom of Information application to the Provincial Government arrive heavily redacted

In January Save the View finally received from the Provincial government material under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIPOP) about studies related to the proposed P3 convention centre. The reports are heavily redacted (censored) and almost every number has been eliminated. The justification the Province would probably give is that they don't want the developer to be able to guess what the Province would be willing to pay for the proposed convention centre. However the extent of the redaction is much greater than this. What are they trying to hide?

The FOIPOP reports don’t seem to consider any negative impacts of the convention centre, particularly the impact of the 14 & 18 storey towers on the view but the reports do say the benefits would be equal if the convention centre were placed in another location. A couple of them also note that the Citadel is a major attraction for convention attendees but unless it is well hidden in a redacted section, they never mention that providing funding for the convention centre on this site would allow the two towers that would have a negative impact on the Citadel. These are not true “cost-benefit” studies, just “benefit” studies. A couple of the reports mention that business benefits from the convention centre are transferable to alternate proponents at alternate locations if the present developer does not proceed.

If qualitative benefits include cultural, recreational, and aesthetic benefits that add to the vibrancy, excitement, and sense of community of a city and play an important role in people’s decision on where to live how can the negative impact of the two towers continue to be ignored?

A recent report by Turner & Drake emphasizes the importance of heritage and the connection to the waterfront as being some of the best attributes of being in the downtown. Is the negative effect of the super-blocker towers and the presumed give-away of Grafton Street on the tourist package being considered?

Another recent report by Turner & Drake states there is no business case for new class A office space in the downtown. Why is our government considering using the public's money to trigger the private development of an 18 storey office tower and 14 storey hotel that will block the view?

The choice of location for conventions depends on “not only the centre itself but other elements of the overall convention product as well, including hotels, air access, destination amenities and the location of facilities.” Why isn't the view from Citadel Hill being recognized as a "destination amenity" worth protecting?

 

Nov 5, 2009

Petition Delivered to Province House

The Coalition to Save the View collected 787 signatures in opposition to the proposed downtown 14- and 18-storey convention centre towers in a mere four-hour period at the Halifax Farmers Market this week.

Howard Epstein, MLA for Halifax Chebucto, will present 358 signatures to the Legislative Assembly at 1 p.m. today. Leonard Preyra, MLA for Halifax Citadel, Sable Island, presented 799 signatures on October 13. The total number of signatures presented to the Legislature is 1157...read release

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P3 Convention Centre Towers will Block the View

facebook site linkThe enactment of HRMbyDesign in June of 2009 deleted policies that controlled heights of buildings in the vicinity of Citadel Hill. The view from the roadway on Citadel Hill to George's Island and the Halifax Harbour is no longer protected. The “Coalition to Save the View” from Citadel Hill formed in response to these shortcomings in this new HRM planning strategy.

 

Pending public funding from the provincial or federal government, under  "HRMbyDesign" the city has already approved the construction of twin 18 and 14 storey towers smack dab in the middle of the view to George’s Island from the Hill. The proposed 150,000 square foot convention centre could be accommodated in a two-storey building on the 80,000 square foot building site.

 

Under the new HRMbyDesign planning strategy there is no opportunity for you as a citizen to voice opinions on this new development.  As citizens of HRM, we oppose any construction that blocks the view from Citadel Hill. We recommend that HRMbyDesign include height restrictions that honour Halifax’s natural and heritage assets.

What we want:

SMART BUSINESS

- we want developments in HRM to make good business sense and not hand our view from the Citadel over to private
developers

CITIZEN PARTICIPATION

- we want the development approval process to respect our right as citizens to
participate

GREEN POLICIES

- we want all new buildings to be
financially and environmentally sustainable.

 

No 18 storey Convention Centre!!!

 

Three Good Reasons Why

> Smart Business includes Heritage, Tourism and the Cultural Economy halifax citadel

Halifax is truly an historic city. Its natural topography, a hill crowned by the Citadel sloping down to a magnificent harbour, is an outstanding feature of the downtown area. This visible connection to the water reveals the history of the world-famous fortress on Citadel Hill.

The 18 and 14 storey towers that are part of a proposed Convention Centre will block the last remaining view of the central harbour from the roadway in front of the Citadel, severing the historic visual link. Turner Drake and Partners, a prominent realty firm in Halifax, reports that “A key demand for all types of space in Downtown Halifax is its unique character which in turn is defined by the heritage buildings and their relationship with the harbour.”

The historic nature of downtown Halifax is a primary economic asset; it is an enormous tourist attraction and it is also as a place where many modern businesses want to locate because of the historic ambience and quality of life. It’s just not smart business to exchange cultural assets such as heritage buildings and beautiful views for commercial developments providing financial windfalls to a few developers.

rodney and nova centreThe proposed Convention Centre towers fly in the face of current best practices in the world’s great historic cities like London, Paris, Jerusalem, Vienna, Charleston and Quebec City. These great cities are tightening design controls and blocking the erection of towers in their city centres. Shouldn’t Halifax, a great Canadian historic city, be doing the same?
The business case for a new convention centre must be made known to the public. Office space or hotel units associated with the Centre could be low-rise buildings erected on some of the more than one million square feet of vacant land in the downtown area. Government money should not benefit one developer over another by subsidizing development especially when these subsidies are providing financing leverage for construction of the high rise hotel and office towers. If this happens the province would be using our money to block our view.

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> Democracy Means Citizen Participation

In HRM, citizens have driven major civic decisions such as recycling and composting, banning cosmetic pesticides, and protecting the views from Citadel Hill and the Dartmouth Common.
Under the newly-approved HRMbyDesign a streamlined 60-day decision making process dictated by an un-elected Design Review Committee is a heavy-handed exclusion of citizen participation. Before, everyone used to be able to participate. Now, tenants, people who own property elsewhere in the municipality, people who work and walk downtown, as well as neighbourhood, environmental, and heritage organizations are being shut out.
Only the applicant for a project is allowed to appeal to the Utility and Review Board. This represents a dramatic shift of power, away from ordinary citizens and public-interest groups, to property owners, applicants, design professionals and municipal staff. Therefore, there is no venue for us to express our disapproval of the design of the proposed Convention Centre Towers.
Based on a public survey of pedestrians in downtown Halifax on May 31, 2009:

  • 91% of the public are opposed to the two Convention Centre towers
  • 73% of the public surveyed preferred to keep the existing view.
  • The survey has a margin of error of 7%, 95 times out of 100

Even though the public does not want the towers, the public does not have a say in the process for determining if the buildings are built or if public money will be spent on the project. We are left with direct appeals to elected politicians to represent our true interests.

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> Sustainability Requires Green Policies

While the world is busy going green as a response to climate change, HRMbyDesign has no environmental safe guards. This city needs development that is guided by good environmental policies. In the case of a new Convention Centre there is no requirement for green energy use, energy conservation, or green space or parks. The building is out of context, blocks views, and creates wind and shadow effects. These issues do not get considered in some 'green' building codes.

nova centre proposedHalifax will not be a participant in the new green-collar economy if there is not a single decision for sustainability that developers have to make. The Downtown Halifax Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy acknowledges, "a sustainable city is one that promotes sustainable building design to reduce resource and energy consumption" and where "development meets the principles of the triple bottom line: socially and culturally sustainable, economically sustainable and environmentally sustainable." Is this just talk? We need action on these strategies.

 

Help Save the View from Citadel Hill

Posted by April 25, 2009

The group "Save the View from Citadel Hill" was formed in response to the proposed changes in municipal planning represented by "HRMbyDesign". These changes would delete current mandatory policies in the municipal planning strategy that control heights of buildings in the vicinity of Citadel Hill and that protect the view of the central harbour between view planes. "HRMbyDesign" will allow Developers to build to heights that threaten this historic and world-renowned scenic feature. We say, "Don't block the view from Citadel Hill".halifax skyline

Heritage, Tourism and the Cultural Economy

The HRM by Design plan says that the construction of high-rise towers in the downtown will "confer significant, economic, social, or cultural benefits".  It doesn't factor in the point that our downtown, as is, is the Historic Centre of English Canada.   

Tourists and cruise ships come here because its NOT another brand new American-style city. They want the history and charm of our heritage.  Filmmakers shoot films here because it's NOT Vancouver or Toronto. They want the look of Boston or the British Isles.  And artists and students come here because its beautiful, friendly and is still affordable.

In fact people move to the peninsula because there's a sense of community, an interesting and accessible culture and a setting that gives them access to the ocean. HRM by Design does not just allow but encourages the construction of tall buildings that sacrifice prized public economic and cultural assets (see the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia web site) for private benefit.

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Sustainability and the Green Factor

This city needs to take the time to have a design plan that aligns how we live, eat, move, spend and act with environmental policies. In HRM by Design there are no mandatory requirements for sustainability.

We are not going to have a green-collar economy if there is not a single choice for sustainability that the developers will be forced to take.  In the new plan there is no increased green space or parks; no green building codes; no green energy use; and no sustainable transportation. Where will our kids play?

By removing all existing policies that protect historic buildings they will be torn down and replaced with new taller ones. Why?  Right now there is more than one million square feet of vacant land and several massive buildings already approved for development that have not yet been built because there's no demand and therefore there's no economic sense.

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Only the Wealthy Get to Live Downtown

 

At the same time with no mandatory requirements for affordable housing, where will artists, young families, students and average working-class people (not to mention people with disabilities who could benefit more than anyone else by proximity to government services) be living? 

Did you know that in the proposed plan, an unsustainably-built tall building could be 30% higher if the developer adds a piece of public art? For example the developer might pay as little as $75,000 for the art and then get the profit from 30% more rental income for the entire life of the building. This is at the expense of OUR HISTORIC VIEW and our livable city. We doubt that any artists support this trade-off.

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History

The struggle to keep the view

In 1973 we told the Mayor and City Council that we wanted the view from the Citadel protected - we didn't want developers to block it. At that time, they listened and protected the view from Citadel Hill with a set of view planes designations and specific height restrictions. In 2009 "HRMbyDesign" lessened the height restrictions in the vicinity of Citadel Hill leaving the potential for the view from the Citadel to be blocked over the coming years, one building at a time.photo

Polls show that 93% of HRMers have visited Citadel Hill in recent years, and 800,000 people visit the Hill each year. That’s you and me and almost every tourist that comes here.  The view from and of the Citadel Hill is our common view, our common sky, our common space – don’t let the Mayor and Council give away the public’s view to developers for their private profit.

 

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